Be aware of what Truss sells in Taiwan island
An open letter to Taiwan, with best wishes from Britain
Published: May 15, 2023 09:27 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

"Dear Taiwan,

On Tuesday a woman will travel more than 6,000 miles from London to Taipei to visit you. Her name is Liz Truss, and you shouldn't let her in: draw the curtains or hide behind the furniture when she knocks. Pretend you are not at home. She could be the house guest from hell, the type who talks nonsense, overstays their welcome and leaves a mess for the host to clear up.

Truss used to be our prime minister, with the unique distinction of having been the shortest-serving PM in our history, spending just 49 days in office because she was so bad at her job. In those few weeks, she introduced policies which crashed our currency, drove up housing costs for millions of ordinary people, and lost the economy more than £30bn.

Now, she risks cranking up the tensions between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and derailing London's current clumsy efforts to forge closer relations with Beijing, and all for what? Because she's been looking for a job.

When she was forced out of her office last October she began working to resurrect the shattered corpse of her political career. Her current employment seems to be as a kind of travelling salesperson, traversing the globe to peddle her simplistic worldview. This she does by giving speeches attacking China.

Recently, she's been to Japan and the US and was in Denmark on Monday to ply her intemperate rhetoric. On Tuesday, she will call on you to try and sell the same message. When our disgraced ex-PM arrives in Taiwan, she plans to give a supposedly "keynote" speech, the purpose of which will be to ramp up anti-China feelings over Taiwan. It seems to be all that she does, these days. 

Since being evicted from Downing Street she has been carving out a niche for herself as a hawk on China. This week, she will claim to be "showing solidarity with the Taiwanese people." Don't fall for it.

Even before she became PM, she had a penchant for attacking Beijing, regardless of any logic to her arguments. When she was Britain's foreign secretary, the former prime minister of Australia Paul Keating called her "demented" for suggesting China could launch an aggressive war in the Indo-Pacific. She also ludicrously wanted to declare China a "threat" to the UK's national security. Her target then - and now - was largely within the hard-right wing of Britain's ruling Conservative Party, where bellicose language and attitudes mix freely with anti-China sentiment.

The British parliament's register of MP's financial interests discloses that last month the ultra-conservative Washington think-tank The Heritage Foundation paid £7,600 for Truss and her family to attend a conference where she gave a speech criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Beijing as "a sign of weakness," and castigating China for allegedly seeking to impose its way of thinking on others: this, from someone who has sought to preach her world view of China across the world. She gave a similar speech at the National Diet in Tokyo, in February, calling for Taiwan to be given more arms and for the G7 to agree sanctions against China.

Her visit to Taiwan can only do damage to the delicate equilibrium in the South China Sea, that between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and that between Beijing and London, and even increases the internal frictions inside her own party to which one might expect her to show loyalty. She creates a diplomatic headache for the British government, which does not even recognize Taiwan or have diplomatic relations with it. While Truss is advocating confrontation with Beijing, PM Rishi Sunak's government is trying to navigate a more nuanced foreign policy. Though its messaging is clumsy, confused and contradictory: foreign secretary James Cleverly one moment seeks to internationalize the Taiwan question, and the next moment talks of seeking a "constructive" relationship with Beijing. The situation is delicately balanced, and visits like that of Truss this week risk upsetting it.

She knows that Taiwan is a critical flashpoint for China and the West, and that the One China policy is at the heart of Beijing's concerns. No good will come of her visit, other than perhaps to entrench the feeling within China that national reunification should occur sooner rather than later. Liz Truss is not the person to be dealing with a highly volatile diplomatic situation.

So when she comes calling at your door this week, don't buy what she is selling. It's damaged goods.

Best wishes,


The author is a journalist and lecturer living in Britain. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn